The Self Educated Student

Yesterday I ran across an amazing interview with Mike Rowe called; Worst Advice in the History of the world. (It includes the article plus a couple of short videos) Mike Rowe is the well-known host of the popular TV series “Dirty Jobs” and Ford commercials. In the opening paragraph of the article, Mike is quoted as saying “We’re lending money we don’t have, to kids who will never be able to pay it back, for jobs that no longer exist.” He goes on to say that he is not against a college education, but, it is not the only path for success available.

At one point in the video Mike says “those who attend college are not purchasing an education, they are purchasing a diploma”. Explaining that “you can go down to the Public Library and get enough resources to educate yourself for free.” While this is not exactly the same as a “formal” education, it does bring up an interesting perspective.  I wonder if the student completing an entire course of study successfully but failing to get a diploma is any more or less qualified than the student with the diploma?

Anyway, I went to bed thinking about this. Around 2am I woke up thinking about that statement “you can go down to the Public Library and get enough resources to educate yourself for free.” I realized that there was actually quite a bit of merit to this notion. Not having the benefit of a formal education beyond high school myself, I actually fit the description of Mike’s statement.

I worked in a field of specialty medical equipment design for more than 20 years. I learned it by combining some of my design and fabrication skills with “on the job training” with me entering the field as a repair tech. Mixed in were formal and informal seminars, workshops and other opportunities to advance my understanding, education and skills. Eventually, the field advanced to the point where certifications were required to continue being “qualified” to remain in the position. These are largely administered by associations heavily linked to universities.

This was a good move because there were so many unqualified people in the field that something needed to be implemented to raise and establish a standard of professionalism. My choice after more than 20 years was to submit to the formal certification process (which wasn’t that bad) or choose to lose my employment as a specialist in that field. Oddly enough, to continue, I simply needed to purchase a diploma (certification). This is exactly what many of my peers in the field did. In reality the good ones were still good and the bad ones were still bad. But, they were now certified. I chose to leave the profession about that time not because of the certification process, but after 20 years, I really didn’t have the motivation to keep going.

From the age of 20 through 40, I engaged in one field of employment and had one marketable skill. At 40, I was looking for a replacement career with no formal education and no real history in anything other than my medical equipment training. I actually considered going to school and getting a degree, but with a family of 5, I just couldn’t see how that would work. What happened next is exactly what Mike Rowe mentioned in his interview.

I spent a couple of years bouncing around low paying jobs and odds and end small business activities then finally at age 43, threw up my hands and declared to myself “Enough!” I decided my “New” career and skill would be that of “wealth building”! I began buying books on investing (real estate and stock market) I studied business principles and even bought a couple television infomercial courses on real estate investing. (one of the companies actually ended up featuring us in one of their success stories in their newsletter)

My wife and I made a “choice” to self educate ourselves in “wealth creation”. That lead to our “choice” to self educate ourselves in Real Estate investing. Eight years after making these decisions, we crossed the “millionaire threshold”. Our education is not complete, nor will it ever be. There will never be a time when we are not advancing our learning, understanding and skills. It has become a “Life choice” at this point.

I even realized after watching Mike’s video, that I have now engaged in two more “Self Education” professions. During our real estate investing, we have purchased two recreational resorts. Initially intended to be a private family retreat, they have basically turned into another business for us. We are now successfully learning the skill and profession of Resort Management. Coupled with that, we’ve found the need to develop internet marketing skills. SO……..what do we do? We found some incredibly awesome internet marketing tools and educational products and are slowly but surely learning that as well.

Mike is right! Education doesn’t (and shouldn’t) look the same for everyone. Don’t create barriers in your mind based upon the lack of a degree or diploma. Start where you are to create your own path for success!

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